While hybrid meetings can allow more people to participate, they can also lead to accessibility issues and cause imbalances and divisions if not carefully planned and executed.
Certified meeting professional Meredith Kaganovskiy says that “the goal is to create environments for two audiences, but one experience.” As a facilitator, it’s your job to help bridge the gaps between in-person and remote attendees.
It’s easy to forget the remote participants and focus on those in the room. Be sure to allow equal access for input and discussion.
Tips for successful meetings (virtual, hybrid, and in-person)
- Have a purpose. Be sure you and your group know why you’re meeting.
- Send the agenda and other meeting materials ahead of time and ask participants to review them. Consider sending a reflection question to get everyone thinking.
- Start with introductions and an icebreaker question so everyone feels more comfortable.
- Go over logistics of how to engage in the meeting.
- Make your meeting interactive. Ask questions. Share responses from the chat with the in-person participants.
Tips for hybrid meetings
- During discussions, ask for input from remote attendees first, then ask for input from those attending in person.
- Be sure it’s clear who is speaking. It may be helpful if people say their name before they speak to help remote participants. The facilitator can help with this by calling on people to talk by name.
- If you use handouts, slides, or whiteboard, be sure all participants have access. It is difficult for remote participants to see materials on a physical whiteboard. Digital whiteboards include Microsoft Whiteboard and Google JamBoard.
- Use shared documents for creating or modifying content so everyone can see edits live.
- If in-person participants can’t see the remote participants, consider using photos of them in the room so everyone remembers they are present online.
- Set up the room so in-person participants are facing the camera.
- Assign a virtual moderator to monitor the chat and connect with remote participants. The moderator can interject comments into the room if necessary.